Recap: March 30, 2016 MSU Lilly Seminar: Applying Design Thinking to Academic Plans

On Wednesday, March 30 I was honored to facilitate the final MSU Lilly Seminar of the 2016 Academic Year: Applying Design Thinking to Academic Plans. The slides from the presentation are embedded below – (hyperlinks to resources are embedded in the slides.)

As is usually the case, the best parts came during discussion during the breaks, debrief and in the seminar feedback. I’ll share a few of those insights here since they were not shared with the group at large.


In my presentation, I shared some of the challenges I have faced associated with design thinking. During one of the breaks, Dr. Chivukula had a fantastic suggestion when using design thinking with groups – share a set of ground rules with participants. This is such a simple, genius solution that can thwart some of the resistance you may get (as design thinking is not a scientific process.)


After the session, I was honored to meet and connect with Daniel W. Linna Assistant Dean for Career Development & Professor of Law in Residence at MSU. I am VERY excited to learn more about and how they are using lean thinking (and design thinking) at the Law School on campus. One of the best parts of Faculty Development seminars is the opportunity to learn from people all around campus. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for news and seminars out of the LegalRnD department!


Finally, in reviewing the feedback there were a few points that I will address to hopefully help with the take-aways. One participant felt the session was self-promotional and another walked away feeling that there were not concrete ways to apply design thinking to the classroom.  I’ll do my best share a few more resources here that can help with that!  By sharing my own work, I was hoping to lend some legitimacy to my own use of design thinking (walking the walk and talking the talk) as opposed to simply linking out to the work of others.  I appreciate this feedback and will work at a better mix in the future. I was additionally asked to share concrete ways the Hub has been working across campus for the participants – I should have made that a bit more clear as I was sharing.
  • In the slides, I linked to the MSU library search for academic articles on “design thinking” – this is one place to start
  • Educause is another great place to search – here is the link to “design thinking
  • A great campus resource is Jess Knott – she has been doing a lot of thinking in this area as well and is a great person to tap for a brainstorming session.


In sum, I don’t want people to walk away thinking that this is the only way that I work.  It’s a tool in my toolbox (or whatever metaphor you want to use) as a way to tackle wicked problems.  I wish there was one single answer, but, honestly, where is the fun in that? Additionally, as I shared in the session, design thinking isn’t something that just gets done in a 1, 2, 3-hour workshop! It’s a continual process of iteration and re-design as you work towards solutions.


Finally, a huge shout out to Breana Yaklin and Dave Goodrich, my colleagues at The Hub. (Thanks for visually documenting the day Dave!!) They are two more people to tap on campus for your design thinking needs!


Thanks again to all who attended – would love to continue the conversation/resource sharing here in the comments or on twitter. (You can use the #MSUhub hashtag!)